Literature Essay

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Arthur Miller's affinity with the common man is expressed in his tragic masterpieces The Crucible and Death Of A Salesman. Comparing one to the other is reserved for A-Level English, but I greatly prefer Death Of A Salesman, primarily due to its knowing domestic sadness and the ferocity of its deconstruction of a sad and empty dream of wealth and status. Miller's writing is stripped of needless chit-chat, with each line loaded with meaning - just waiting for a great performance to bring them to life. The story tells of the Lomans, a common American family based in New York City. The father, Willy Loman (Dustin Hoffman), is a tired elderly salesman, no longer able to make a living based on commission. He is obsessed with realising the American Dream and making as much money as possible, through personal influence and huge ambition. Copy picture He is also convinced that a "well-liked" and "personally attractive" person will do well in business. This does not work out well, and Willy finds himself having to travel long distances and borrow money from his successful neighbour, Charley, to make financial ends meet. Ironically, Willy often dismisses Charley - "He's liked, but he's not well-liked". Slipping into deep, occasionally suicidal, depression about how his life has failed, Willy is forced to examine his existence at face value. It leads him to do terrible things to his family, forcefully ostracising his sons Biff and Happy when they do not aspire to share his values and begin develop human flaws of their own. Biff (John Malkovich) is a simple sod, deflated after his father's hot-air barrage in his youth, and a kleptomaniac to boot. Happy, meanwhile, is so desperate for attention will come up with any excuse to make people to listen to him - "I'm losing weight, Pop!". Willy has gone prematurely senile - and oblivious to the fact, spends his time talking

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